Drivers 'should spend a year as learners'

4 Oct, 2012 2:39pm Jon Morgan

Insurers call for a minimum L-plate period to make young drivers safer

New motorists should spend at least a year learning to drive before gaining a licence, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

It wants a complete overhaul of the system, with night-time driving curfews and a lower drink-drive limit for new drivers, too.

ABI director general Otto Thoresen said: “Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads, especially among the 17 to 24 age group.”

The ABI believes the way to ensure the safety of young drivers is to introduce a graduated licence scheme that would impose restrictions on newly qualified motorists for a six-month period.

As well as banning them from driving between 11pm and 4am and having a zero-tolerance approach to blood-alcohol levels, the scheme would also limit how many passengers they could carry.

The ABI also wants to see a ban on intensive driving courses that see students with limited real-world driving experience pass their tests.

Thoresen said: A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.”

According to the ABI, newly qualified drivers are responsible for a disproportionate number of accidents. An 18-year-old is three times more likely than a 48-year-old to be in a crash, it says. And a third of drivers killed in car crashes are under 25.

What do you make of the proposals? Does imposing restrictions on newly qualified drivers make sense? Should people have to spend at least a year learning, regardless of ability?

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It's ridiculous you'll never change the attitudes of young drivers by making them 'learn' for one year. I regard myself as a very safe driver at 18 and it took me five lessons to pass with one minor.

We need a much harder test like in Sweden to weed the pathetic drivers out there who are reckless simply because they don't have the gumption to realise that they're driving is dangerous to themselves and others.

I'm all for being safe on the road. As a result of the curfew, will insurers bring the cost of insurance down to an affordable level or will they add personal injury cover so that when our teenagers are out after 11pm and can't drive home they are insured against bring beaten up or robbed? The root of the problem is the way in which learners are taught for the test and not for the road conditions. My son had had 6 driving lessons so far, and was only told how to steer on the 4th lesson, yet had gone through the gearbox at each lesson before that. Its long been suggested that a P plate be used- By all means have a test, then a P period for experience and then re-test.

The research appears to show that where private insurance is required, GDS's do not cause a reduction in insurance premiums.

Better to have a green 'P' sign if anything. But driving skills come through time and experience - nothing will change that. And of course, every driver is different, so the time needed varies.

I've been driving for 4 years now and Insurance companies still want £1500 for me/my company to insure me on a van. This has prevented us from taking on a lot of work, doing wonders for us and benefiting the economy at the same time....

I'm sure the ABI's crippling costs play no part in young drivers getting killed in accidents when nobody can afford anything other the oldest least safe rust bucket available.

Les makes a great point here. A friend of mine recently bought his son a Chevrolet Matiz as it was the only car they could afford to insure. It also has one of the lowest EuroNCAP crash safety ratings.

Another acquaintance (with stacks of cash) bought his son a Golf GTI which he turned over within a week (kind of making the ABI's point). At least he and his friends all walked away thanks to VW's safety systems. I doubt a Matiz driver would have come off as well.

Insurers are forcing the youngest, least experienced drivers into the least safe cars. They need to use their insurance group system to reduce the insurance costs of safer, low powered cars.

Hi Jobjoe - At 18 I thought just like you. I was a great driver. A couple of (thankfully) minor accidents put that right.

You can't possibly be a safe driver because you have so little experience. In five years time you'll look back on the posting above and agree.

You are not immortal and too much confidence is as bad as too little.

At 44 I now understand how dangerous it is to drive a car and I understand my modest limits as a driver, which I never did when I was younger.

Old fart lecture over. Be lucky and be safe out there.

Both sides of the argument here have valid points to make, there are lots of drivers who can pass the test and be safe and sensible with a few lessons, others can pass and not be safe and sensible. Many other drivers take a long time to pass, again some will be careful others not, anyone who knows anthing about teaching will know that everyone learns different things in different ways and at different rates. To say one test or test type will cure all ills is stupid and narrow minded. A test must be divised which gets everyone to the same level of competence, a lot higher than the current test and also modifies driver attitudes and perceptions of danger. Every one will be able to reach this level at their own pace as usual, but be better drivers for it.

it doesnt matter how much you educate someone, were all human beings and its more likely people will learn from their mistakes, whether thats having an accident or simply being issued points & or a fine.